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What to Do in Washington DC during COVID

Book a Guided Walking Tour

Washington DC is reopening but there are still a few federal buildings that are not reopen yet and some museums have restricted hours.

If you're looking for what to do in Washington DC during the pandemic, this comprehensive guide will help you navigate what is open in DC right now.

This page was updated on January 01, 2023

Please note that Washington DC has some guidelines for visiting:

  • There is no vaccine or mask mandate, but some individual locations do require them.
  • There are city regulations for visitors, you can find more here.

What to Do in Washington DC during COVID

1. Take a Walking Tour

We offer a number of walking tours right now! All tours take safety precautions such as small groups, no interior stops and physical distancing. All our tours are entirely outdoors.

You can join us for tours of:

  • National Mall
  • Historic Georgetown
  • Lincoln's Assassination
  • True Crime & Scandals of Georgetown, or Embassy Row
  • Ghosts of Georgetown
  • & more!

2. Visit a Museum (that's open!)

Many museums in DC have reopened!

Hillwood Estates - taken by Canden

As of July 12, 2021 it is easier to list what hasn't reopened! Most museums in DC have reopened, though on limited hours and required timed tickets.

Starting Tues July 20 you will NOT need timed tickets to visit most Smithsonian Museums. Only the National Zoo, National Air & Space Museum on the National Mall, and National Museum of African American History and Culture will require tickets.

You can find out more about how to get Smithsonian tickets on our article here.

Which Smithsonian Museums are Open right now?

All the Smithsonian Museums have reopened but with limited schedules. Due to staffing issues and an increase in COVID cases, January hours are more limited than usual.

Find out more here...

3. Explore the Memorials

One of the highlights of visiting Washington DC is touring the National Mall. You can take a guided tour of the memorials with us on a in-person guided walking tour or a self guided audio tour.

All the memorials on the National Mall and Tidal Basin are open to visitors, though some of the small interior museums are closed.

4. Walk through a historic neighborhood

Neighborhoods like Georgetown and Alexandria offer pre-revolutionary charm, and U Street NW was once known as Black Broadway.

A stroll through these neighborhoods offers photo ops, charm and if you walk with one of our self guided audio tours, a lot of history.

We offer audio tours of three historic neighborhoods:

  • Historic Georgetown
  • U Street NW
  • Old Town Alexandria

5. Take a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour

Big Bus Tours have recently reopened in Washington DC with enhanced safety measures.

Bus Tours allow you to hop on and hop off at select sites with a guided narration as you drive between. This is a good way to see sites but also get around the city.

Read more about Bus Tours in DC or Buy Your Ticket Here.

6. Become a Spy at the International Spy Museum

One of our favorite museums in DC has reopened! Here you have a chance to explore their new location and learn about the tricks of the espionage trade.

The Spy Museum is open Thursday to Monday.

You can read more about the International Spy Museum here.

7. Pay Respects at Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington Cemetery is open and the Tomb of Unknown Soldier has reopened.

You can also visit the Women in Military Service Memorial & Museum though free timed tickets are required. 

8. Eat at a local restaurant

DC has a lot of great places to eat! You can Support DC Businesses by ordering to go or eating on some of the outdoor patios. Many restaurants will have heated patio seating as the days get cooler.

Some of our favorite places to eat are:

  • Ben's Chili Bowl (U Street NW)
  • Founding Farmers (Foggy Bottom)
  • Queen Vic (H St NE)
  • Martin's Tavern (Georgetown)
  • Hamilton (Downtown)
  • Pizza Paradisio (Georgetown)

9. Learn about DC from a local Justice perspective

DC by Foot has partnered with Justice Walks DC to offer tours of Washington DC neighborhoods through the lens of Civil Rights and Social Justice.

Join Kate, a social justice educator, for a discussion about these neighborhoods and where available a chance to talk to community leaders and business owners.

NOTE: this is a tour that will discuss topics some may find controversial such as race, racism and economics. It is also a participatory, discussion based tour. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences and thoughts. 

Contact us at to book this as a private tour.

10. Visit the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

The National Gallery of Art offers a chance to see the only Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas, as well as Turners, Titians. Both the West and East Wings are reopen with no timed tickets required.

And you can still visit the outdoor sculpture gardens!

11. Heurich House Beer Garden

We are big fans of history & hops, so when the Heurich House Brewmaster's Castle opened their garden, we could not have been more excited.

On Thursdays from 5pm-8pm you can have a 1921 style Happy Hour- featuring Senate Beer and Liberty Apple Cider.

Find out more here:

12. See the theatre and museum at Ford's Theatre

We're still offering our famous Lincoln Assassination Walking Tours. And on some dates we have arranged tickets to tour inside the theatre.

Our walking tours do not enter any buildings and we end outside the famous theatre painting a picture for you. It is a great alternative for going inside! 

12. Explore the Great Outdoors

In addition to the National Mall, Washington DC has a lot of open green space for exploring.

  • Teddy Roosevelt Island
  • National Arboretum
  • Oak Hill Cemetery
  • Congressional Cemetery

Our hiking expert, Bob, has written a whole post about finding hiking in the DC area.

13. Ride the Capitol Wheel

The Capitol Wheel at National Harbor is an observation wheel that takes you up 180' in one of 42 climate controlled gondalas. Sunset rides are the most popular.

Keep in mind that National Harbor is a ways out of downtown but there are a number of things you can do there such as a public art walk, the Awakening statue, restaurants and more. Read our post on things to do in National Habor...

14. Go to an immersive Art experience at ARTECHOUSE

‘Renewal 2021’ opens March 15, 2021 and is inspired by DC's Cherry Blossom season. You'll walk through an industrial city 100 years in the future where nature struggles to survive. Leave with a sense of hope though seeing cherry blossoms peak through the plastic and concrete.

Find out more ...

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About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 28 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 4) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.
Updated: January 22nd, 2023
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